A flowcytometric analysis to efficiently quantify multiple innate immune cells and T Cell subsets in human blood

D. F. Draxler, M. T. Madondo, G. Hanafi, M. Plebanski, R. L. Medcalf

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The balance of inflammation and immunosuppression driven by changed ratios in diverse myeloid and T cell subsets, as well as their state of activation and ability to migrate to lymphoid compartments or inflammatory sites, has emerged as a highly active area of study across clinical trials of vaccines and therapies against cancer, trauma, as well as autoimmune and infectious diseases. There is a need for effective protocols which maximally use the possibilities offered by modern flow cytometers to characterize such immune cell changes in peripheral blood using small volumes of human blood. Additionally, longitudinal clinical studies often use cryopreserved samples, which can impact flow cytometric results. To efficiently gauge both the innate and the adaptive immune response, two novel 15-color antibody panels to identify key myeloid and T cell subsets and their functional potential were established. This approach was used to compare cellular immune profiles in fresh whole blood and in matched cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Cocktail I was designed to identify and characterize myeloid cell populations including dendritic cells (DCs), monocytic monocyte-derived suppressor cells (MO-MDSC), and monocytes, determining further core aspects of their state of maturity, T cell stimulatory (or inhibitory) potential, and migration capability. Cocktail II was used for phenotyping diverse T cells subsets, and their key migration and functional regulatory capabilities. The two 15-color antibody panels for the evaluation of both immune-stimulating and immunosuppressive processes presented herein allowed for efficient evaluation of the balance of immune activation versus immunosuppression across key blood cells, with good resolution for all 15 markers stained for in each panel. Gating strategies for the myeloid and T cells are presented to further support specific subset identification. This protocol was shown to be reproducible across donors and useful to study both RBC-lysed whole blood and cryopreserved PBMCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-350
Number of pages15
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • adaptive immunity
  • flow cytometry
  • innate immune cells
  • lymphoid cells
  • myeloid cells
  • T cells

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